Fox releases the next generation of GRIP dampers plus its lightest ever XC fork – the radical new reverse-arched 32 Step-Cast XC fork

Fox 36 MY25 in gold
(Image credit: William Blouin-Comeau)

Fox is celebrating its 50th anniversary by releasing not one, but three new GRIP dampers. There are also big changes to the 32 Step-Cast plus a new limited edition "Podium Gold" colorway.

Until now, the previous generation GRIP 2 damper was used across all of Fox's best mountain bike forks (apart from the 32 which still used GRIP). Now Fox has expanded the GRIP lineup and released the next generation of GRIP fork dampers with the development of GRIP X2, GRIP X, and GRIP SL. 

Each of these three dampers is optimized for specific riding disciplines, the GRIP X2 is aimed at descending performance, GRIP X is for all-mountain riding, and Fox's lightest GRIP SL damper is for XC. 

Fox MY25 GRIP dampers

From left to right; GRIP X2, GRIP X, and GRIP SL (Image credit: William Blouin-Comeau)

It wasn't just about developing specific dampers for specific riding, Fox wanted to reduce internal pressures and improve tunability so riders could better optimize sensitivity, traction, and support. With an average compression and return stroke only taking roughly 30 milliseconds, there isn't much time to make a damper perform exactly how you want it to.

To improve control of the X2 and X dampers Fox turned its attention to compression and rebound adjustment. Fox focused on pressure control by designing a larger base valve piston and giving the engineers and tuners room to increase the number of valves in the shim stack. While the GRIP 2 had seven valves, the new GRIP dampers have 23 valves to react quicker to impacts and offer more granular control over how the fork's compression and rebound perform.

Fox has also separated low and high-speed rebound adjustments to eliminate crosstalk (one adjustment affecting another adjustment). This should give riders more targeted tuning without needing to readjust other settings to balance the fork.

Fox 36 MY25 fork being ridden by Jackson Goldstone

The three new GRIP dampers have been designed for the needs of different disciplines (Image credit: Fox)

GRIP X2 and GRIP X share similar architecture and base performance, Fox has made some changes to optimize it for trail riding. While GRIP X2 gives you four-way adjustment (high/low-speed compression and high/low-speed rebound), by sacrificing the high-speed rebound adjustment and fitting smaller pistons, mid valve, and pressure tube, the GRIP X saves 120g over the GRIP X2 damper and 100g over the old GRIP 2.

The GRIP X has three-way adjustability (low-speed rebound, high/low-speed compression) for a more simplified setup, featuring a 170-degree sweeping high-speed compression knob on the left fork leg for quick adjustments. The high-speed compression knob also controls the lockout, clicking into the final position to close both high and low-speed compression and give a stable platform when climbing. 

GRIP SL is a short travel-specific damper designed for World Cup XCO and XCM races, although considerably smaller than the other GRIP dampers, it's still focused on suspension performance. The GRIP SL features an open, middle, or firm position compression adjuster and saves 60g of weight over the FIT4 damper previously used on Fox's 100mm XC forks.

We got some pre-launch riding time on the new GRIP X damper, to find out what we thought check out the Fox 36 GRIP X first ride review.

Fox 32 Step Cast render

Fox 32 Step Cast features a new radical reverse arch (Image credit: Fox)

Fox 32 Step-Cast escapes the matrix

Unlike the rest of the fork range which just gets a damper upgrade, Fox has reworked its 32 Step Cast cross-country fork. Fox claims that at 1,287g, the new 32 Step-Cast is the lightest mountain bike fork on the market.

Not only were the Fox engineers tasked with making Fox's lightest fork 100g lighter, they also had to improve the stiffness of the 32 Step-Cast which was a weakness of the previous fork. 

This wasn't an easy task and every available gram was pulled from the the fork to achieve this goal. The new GRIP SL damper helped shed a good chunk of weight, but they had to find more.

Attention turned to the other areas, 12g was saved using a new Kabolt SL axle, 11g was shaved off the steerer, and another 9g by using a new double-butted upper tube on the damper side. 

The final pieces of the puzzle were the crown and arch where Fox not only managed to save 18g, but increased the fork's stiffness by a claimed 40 percent in the process. With most of a fork's stiffness coming from a fork's lowers, Fox used a new software to generate a matrix structure based on load forces. The resulting lattice was then developed into a final design and cast and machined from magnesium. 

Fox's 32 Taper-Cast gravel fork already features a reverse arch, but this is the first time it has been featured on a Fox mountain bike fork. The radical new computer-generated rear arch has several stiffness and weight benefits. Positioning the arch at the rear allows it to be lowered closer to the seal flange saving weight while maintaining stiffness and tire clearance. Along with the arch the 32 Step Cast uses a new zero-degree offset 7000 Series aluminum crown to save more weight. Unlike most forks that combine crown and dropout offset to give the fork its rake number, Fox has angled the stanchions to give the fork its 44mm rake while using less material.

The 32 Step-Cast arch has been designed specifically for 100mm of travel, compatible with 160 to 180mm rotors, and the fork will come in 29in wheel size only.

Fox 36 MY25 in gold detail

The MY25 will be available in a limited edition "Podium Gold" colorway (Image credit: William Blouin-Comeau)

2025 specs

Apart from the new 32 Step-Cast, the architecture of Fox's fork lineup remains unchanged. The Fox range will still feature 32, 34, 36, 38, and 40 forks, although the new GRIP dampers are available across several different fork platforms giving riders more options when spec their bikes. The GRIP X2 will be available on the 36, 38, and 40 and the GRIP X features on the 34 and 36. Grip SL is reserved for Fox's 32TC, 32SC, and 34SC XC forks. A GRIP X2 34 and GRIP X 38 will also be available specced on bikes as OEM only.

There will be e-MTB-tuned X and X2 forks as well, these feature a softer compression tune as Fox found it better suited to the faster climbing and traversing that's found on an e-MTB ride.

The new dampers are also said to be backward compatible with the previous generation of forks if you want to upgrade your fork internals to the new dampers.

Finally, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fox, the new forks will be released in a limited edition "Podium Gold" colorway. The "Podium Gold" special edition forks are expected to be available for purchase come summer although Fox hasn't yet confirmed exact dates. The forks will also be available in the classic Fox Orange or Black.

Fox GRIP X2, GRIP X, and GRIP SL pricing

  • FOX 32 Factory Step-Cast - GRIP SL - $969 / £1,099
  • FOX 32 Factory Taper-Cast - GRIP SL - $949 / £1,099
  • FOX 34 Factory Step-Cast - GRIP SL - $1,019 / £1,179 (£1,269 with remote)
  • FOX 34 Performance Elite - GRIP X - $899 / £1,019
  • FOX 34 Factory - GRIP X - $999 / £1,119
  • FOX 36 Performance Elite - GRIP X - $999 / £1,119
  • FOX 36 Factory EMTB - GRIP X - $1,149 / £1,349
  • FOX 36 Factory - GRIP X - $1,099 / £1,259
  • FOX 36 Factory EMTB - GRIP X2 - $1,149 / TBC
  • FOX 36 Factory - GRIP X2 - $1,149 / £1,349
  • FOX 38 Performance Elite - GRIP X2 - $1,149 / £1339
  • FOX 38 Factory EMTB - GRIP X2 - $1,249 / TBC
  • FOX 38 Factory - GRIP X2 - $1,249 / £1,439
  • FOX 40 Factory - GRIP X2 - $1,849 / £2,089
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road, based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg